FRANKLIN, Tenn. –  The Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit Franklin) board of directors personnel committee has named current Vice President of Marketing & Communications Lauren Ward as Interim President & CEO beginning January 30, following the departure of President & CEO Ellie Westman Chin. 

Ward has been with Visit Franklin since May 2017, where she has overseen the bureau’s marketing and communications efforts, as well as the Visitor Center and its employees. Additionally, Ward has worked closely with the President & CEO on goal and vision setting for the bureau as a whole, as well as directly with hospitality industry partners across the county to promote the area to potential visitors. 

Prior to her work with Visit Franklin, Ward served as an Account Supervisor at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations for almost a decade, conceptualizing and implementing PR, marketing, and advertising campaigns for a variety of clients including Amazon, Skanska, Athens State University, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps program. Lauren was also responsible for business development and managed the intern program at the agency. Ward received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Tennessee.

“Although it’s a bittersweet time for the bureau with the departure of Ellie, I am thrilled and honored to assume the position of Interim President & CEO,” said Ward. “I’m incredibly proud of the team we’ve assembled at Visit Franklin and the passion they have for their work, in partnership with our hospitality partners, to bring visitors to the area and support our local businesses. I look forward to working more closely with the board over these next few months and supporting the staff as we transition.” 

The Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board of directors is forming a search committee that will direct a nationwide search for a permanent President & CEO. The committee will include the board of directors personnel committee, chaired by Williamson County Commissioner Steve Smith, with hopes to have a successful candidate finalized in the coming months. 

“We believe that we have a very attractive opportunity here in Williamson County for the next President & CEO,” said Smith. “While we’re obviously disappointed to lose Ellie, and wish her the best in her new position, we anticipate having a lot of interest because of the hard work she and her team have done the last six years to put Visit Franklin in the strong position it is in today. We have great confidence in finding a highly qualified individual to lead Visit Franklin moving forward.”

Westman Chin’s last day with Visit Franklin is January 29, and she, along with her husband Ken, will transition to Madison shortly thereafter where she’ll begin her new role as President & CEO of Destination Madison.


ABOUT VISIT FRANKLIN Visit Franklin is the public brand name of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Visit Franklin is the official destination marketing organization for Franklin and the unique communities of Williamson County, Tennessee. Visit Franklin stimulates economic growth through the promotion of travel and tourism assets such as history, music, attractions, entertainment, the arts, and events to visitors from around the world. For information on Franklin and Williamson County, visit us on the web at


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Matt is the guy who is always ready to share a story with you.

With a passion for new experiences, taking the back roads, and seeing everything possible, Matt serves as Visit Franklin's Senior Director of Public Relations connecting the many unique stories in the Franklin community with great journalists and storytellers worldwide. When not pitching a story idea to travel writers, you’ll likely find him working as a photographer on the sidelines of college and professional sports events across the Southeast.